Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

Midday break: UAE delivery and car cleaning companies aim to be part of the initiative as temperatures rise

The three-month-long mandatory break from 12.30pm to 3pm starts from June 15

A worker washes a car in a residential community. Pawan Singh / The National     
A worker washes a car in a residential community. Pawan Singh / The National     

While construction workers are set to benefit from the government-mandated midday break, a few delivery and car washing firms are also increasing efforts to keep their employees safe as temperatures soar across the UAE.

Workers in the construction sector and others working in open spaces under the sun are required to take a break from 12.30pm to 3pm, from June 15 to September 15.

A number of companies are now extending the midday break to delivery drivers and car cleaners who also work during scorching hours of the day.

And with many residents opting to stay home due to Covid-19, delivery drivers are busier than usual as demand remains high.

Clean Car UAE, one of the largest car cleaning firms in the country, has nearly 600 cleaners working across 58 locations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, such as malls and shopping centre parking lots and residential areas.

Ali Raeis Saadi, the operations manager of the company, said they ask their employees to stop working during the midday break if they are not in a shaded area.

Delivery drivers are busy with an increasing number of home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic. Pawan Singh / The National     
Delivery drivers are busy with an increasing number of home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic. Pawan Singh / The National     

“We stop the cleaners from working from 12.30pm to 3pm as a last resort if the management of the location cannot move them to an area with shade,” Mr Saadi told The National.

“Usually, during these hours, they are moved to another location where they are not exposed directly to the sun. We are giving them Vitamin C and glucose to make sure they don’t get dehydrated.”

Deliveroo, a popular food delivery app in the UAE, said their riders receive a one to four hour break during their eight hour shift each day.

John Mady, the head of operations at the firm, said that the drivers do not work more than eight hours a day.

“Deliveroo sources and provides specialised rider kits made from highly breathable material and protected with a UV blocking wicking fabric that helps keep the riders stay cool in the heat, whilst protecting them from the sun with long sleeves and a high collar," he said.

Mr Mady said they have also partnered with several restaurants to provide free or discounted meals to their riders, as well as providing them water and shaded waiting areas.

A worker rests under the shade of a tree during last year's midday break. Victor Besa / The National 
A worker rests under the shade of a tree during last year's midday break. Victor Besa / The National 

Delivery riders are not automatically eligible for the break because the nature of their job requires that they work through lunchtime.

“If it was a car with air conditioner, it would be a different situation. But we are driving a motorbike in the hot afternoon and we are sweating a lot,” said a driver who works for a food delivery company.

Car cleaners echoed the same message, saying the lack of air conditioners make their job tougher.

“We are sweating for hours when we have to work in areas without shade. The shaded areas in the mall and shopping centre parking lots are a bit cooler but it still leaves us drenched in sweat because it is too humid,” said a car cleaner who works at a Dubai supermarket parking lot.

Meanwhile, construction workers are relieved the midday break has arrived as it will ensure they are not asked to do heavy work during the most intense hours of the heatwave.

A worker at one of the construction sites in the Al Satwa area in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
A worker at one of the construction sites in the Al Satwa area in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

Mohammed Iqbal, a construction worker in Dubai for two years, said he uses the time to rest and hydrate himself.

“It’s a break everyone should get. No one should work under this kind of heat, especially those who have our kind of work,” he said.

Employers who do not comply with the mandatory midday break rule will be fined Dh5,000 per worker.

A maximum of Dh50,000 fine applies in cases where several workers are found working during the break hours.

Last year, five cases of employers who broke the rule were fined by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).

Forty-two complaints were received in the three-month-long break period during investigations and random onsite inspections.

Employers are required to place a daily schedule chart with the working hours in the workplace. It should be in a visible location and must be written in languages the workers’ can understand.

MoHRE has urged members of the community to report any offences via the toll-free number 800600.

Updated: June 14, 2020 04:51 PM

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